Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Video of Mike King's Sarracenia collection (Shropshire Sarracenias)

Mike King's collection/nursery - Shropshire Sarracenia's - is the stuff of legend among Sarracenia fanatics. I was mucking around on YouTube tonight and came across a virtual tour of his nursery that he had posted. Now THIS is a collection! And just look at the colours! Just magnificent...

Monday, December 2, 2013


Like North America, Australia has very spectacular cicada outbreaks. This year has seen massive emergences in the Sydney basin, which I was very lucky to see this past weekend.

Thopha saccata

Australia’s cicadas are rather spectacular, and have been given affectionate and often colourful names by children of generations past that have stuck and even entered common useage. These include names like the greengrocer, yellow monday, masked devil and bottle cicada. Others have names reflecting their musical abilities, such as razor grinder (a species that sounds like an angle grinder being used on sheet metal). The one shown above is similarly called the double drummer (Thopha saccata). This is the songless female.

Thopha saccata_M

Male double drummers have very impressive soun dproducing organs (tymbals), making them one of the loudest insects on Earth. Their tymbals are so large that they even have massive covers over them that look like sidesaddles. You can see them just behind the last pair of legs, under the wings. This male has been around for a while and has milky, torn wings.

Psaltoda moerens_F

Here is a less colourful species, the aptly named red eye (Psaltoda moerens), again a female. What most people don’t realise about cicadas is how beautiful they look like as they emerge as adults.


Here is another female red eye cicada just after she emerged from her nymphal shell. Her colours are spectacular!


Her wings became iridescent blue, almost like a Morpho butterfly, as they fully expanded.




Unfortunately, the colours fade rather quickly once their integument starts to dry out. The body soon becomes very dull, and fades to black as the exoskeleton undergoes a complex chemical reaction.

Thopha saccata_stuck

Unfortunately, some cicadas get stuck or attacked by ants as they emerge. Here is a poor male double drummer who suffered this fate. We tried to rescue him, but his wings had already dried out at a wonky angle.

Danima banksiaeDanima banksiae aposematic

We also ran a light sheet and saw a few nice moths. This is a Notodontid, Danima bankiae.

Endoxyla encalypti

And to finish up, a Cossid or Goath moth, Endoxyla encalypti. This species has some blue iridescence on the thorax. The larvae bore into Eucalyptus trees.

The Sarracenia are doing well, but still recovering from the hail the other week. More photos of this season’s progress are due soon.

Good growing ‘till then!